American Icons: I Love Lucy

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This is where television invented itself.

I Love Lucy feature card

It set the model for the hit family sitcom. Lucy was a bad girl trapped in the life of a ’50s housewife; her slapstick quest for fame and fortune ended in abject failure weekly. Both the antics and the humiliation entered the DNA of TV comedy, from “Desperate Housewives to “30 Rock, writers can’t live without Lucy. Rapper Mellow Man Ace celebrates the breaking of an ethnic taboo; a drag performer celebrates Lucy as a freak. With novelist Oscar Hijuelos, producer Chuck Lorre, The Mindy Project’s Mindy Kaling, and a marriage counselor who has some advice for the bickering couple.

American Icons: I Love Lucy was produced by Jenny Lawton, with production assistance from Chloe Plaunt and Claes Andreasson. David Krasnow edited the show.

(Originally aired October 8, 2010)

Bonus Track: Mindy Hearts Ricky

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling ("The Office") grew up thinking "I Love Lucy" was “one of the many black and white things that people keep telling you is so great... and you’re just sort of bored and annoyed by it.” Then her "Office" boss Greg Daniels ordered her to watch it. She came away with a pretty serious crush on Ricky Ricardo. And she says she's not bothered by jokes about his accent.


Bonus Track: Deconstructing Lucy

Script for 'Lucy is Enciente'

Although Lucy's on-screen antics may have looked improvised, every gesture, glance, and step was written into the script. Gregg Oppenheimer — son of creator, producer, and head writer Jess Oppenheimer — reads a bit of telling stage direction from “Lucy is Enceinte.” Jess and Gregg Oppenheimer are the authors of Laughs, Luck... and Lucy.


→ Read an excerpt from the "Lucy is Enciente" episode script 

Bonus Track: Notes on a Scandal

Confidential Magazine 

In 1955 "Confidential Magazine," a Hollywood scandal rag, reported on Desi Arnaz’s supposed philandering. Dartmouth film and television professor Mary Desjardins explores the less desirable side effect of being a celebrity couple.


→ Read about Lucy and Desi in Confidential Magazine (1955)





Music Playlist

  1. "I Love Lucy" theme and various interstitials

    Artist: CBS Orchestra
    Album: I Love Lucy: The Complete Series
    Label: Paramont
  2. Mambo Jambo (Que Rico El Mambo)

    Artist: Dave Barbour
    Album: Mambo Fever: Ultra Lounge 2
    Label: Capitol
  3. Mambo Garner

    Artist: Erroll Garner
    Album: Mambo Moves Garner
    Label: Verve Records
  4. Variation on "Lucy"

    Artist: Alex Gallafent
    Album: Unreleased
  5. Rhumba at the Waldorf

    Artist: Xavier Cugat
    Album: Xavier Cugat: 16 Most Requested Songs
    Label: Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
  6. Hooray For Hollywood (Cha-Cha)

    Artist: Don Swan & His Orchestra
    Album: Mambo Fever: Ultra Lounge 2
    Label: Capitol
  7. Why

    Artist: Kiki & Herb
    Album: Will Die For You
    Label: Evolver Entertainment
  8. Peanut Vendor

    Artist: Desi Arnaz
    Album: The Best of Desi Arnaz - The Mambo King
    Label: RCA
  9. Cielito Lindo

    Artist: The Spanish Guitar
    Album: The Spanish Guitar
    Label: Clifton Bishop
  10. Rumba Matumba

    Artist: Desi Arnaz
    Album: The Best of Desi Arnaz - The Mambo King
    Label: RCA
  11. Theme from: "I Want to Live"

    Artist: The Gerry Mulligan Jazz Combo
    Album: I Want To Live: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Label: Rykodisc
  12. I Love Lucy

    Artist: Barry Harris
    Album: For the Moment
    Label: Uptown Jazz
  13. I Love Lucy: I Love Lucy (in the style of Purcell)

    Artist: Burnette Dillon
    Album: Mozart TV - Favorite TV Tunes in the Style of Great Classical Composers
    Label: Delos
  14. Totally Hot Nashville Steel Guitar

    Artist: CMH Steel
    Album: I Love Lucy Theme
    Label: CMH Records
  15. Tico Tico (No Fuba)

    Artist: Desi Arnaz
    Album: Cuban Originals: Desi Arnaz
    Label: RCA Records Label
  16. Babalu

    Artist: Desi Arnaz and His Orchestra
    Album: Cuban Originals: Desi Arnaz
    Label: RCA Records Label